tv [untitled] November 9, 2012 2:30am-3:00am PST
it's my pleasure to introduce gale. gale was born and raised in san francisco. her combined ancestory a chinese mother from hong kong and japanese father from hawaii gave her a unique asspect much the language of threads, dreaming water and others. please, help me welcome gale sukiama. [applause] >> so that means if you have read the book you will not be buying the book? [laughter]. i'm always feel a little embarrassed because i looked back and i kept think thanksgiving book was published in 1993 who wants to hear about it now? i feel honored that we call it
those in the know or good friends of mine call at this time energizer bunny. it's the book that somehow kept going all these yeersz. i will tell you up front it was a book i thought that may be they wouldn't publish. my very first book was women of the silk. i knew that i was writing about something that was a little bit different because i didn't know about the women of the silk until i wanted to write something telling their story much the second book is the test book for us writers you hear that a lot where the publishers are wondering if the author has a second book. everybody here i feel sitting here all of you have one book in you. whether it's a family story or your story whether it's ancestors whether it's your history you want to write about. but it's the second one that's hard. i felt that when i turnod the
computer and thought, now i have to write book number 2. i had in mind that i wanted to write something very different from women of the silk that was strictly about the feminist chinese women during the turn of the century and i wanted to write about my japanese culter. i didn't have the story or the culture unfortunately because i was born in san francisco, half chinese and half japanese but raised in the chinese culture. when it was time to write the second book and i knew i wanted to explore my japanese side it was going to be difficult in the way that i didn't know the culture. right away i had to learn a lot. it was something that was not
engrained in me besides the story. i sat down and thought about the story my mother told me about her brother being ill. he at one point went from hong kong to japan to recuperate. he was the one that wanted to be an artist and wanted to paint. i thought about that because it must have been hard growing up in hong kong to be far away from everything and have a dream and get sick at this point. i thought u is there a story here? that's the way it begins for writers. people think things jump out and we have it in our head. it's the opposite we have nothing in our head. we turn on the machine and praying for something to come. with women of the silk i researched for 6 amongs and read and read and read.
in one book i found 2 lines about the woman silk workers and knew immediately that's hai wanted to write about. it came to me like a dream that every writer prays for that you just knew you wanted to write about this. with the second book it was difficult i sat down and didn't know what i was going to write for about 6 months. which was fearful for me because of the fact i knew i didn't have the second book. steven's story, i asked myself questions. a lot of writers do that that's usually how i begin. what did he do? who did he meet when he got off the train? who was this man servant? what was his life about? it all began with the seeds and the particular questions, as simple as that. although, then, i had to answer them. what i had done is i usual low
don't work with an out line. a lot of writers do they will out line what will happen and sometimes they have to because like if you are writing a mystery you need to write out the plot. i write about characters the characters drive the story. when that hatched i sat down and said, what happens is, a, he arrived and gets off the train what's going to happen. >> i know z, he would get on the train and leave at the evented book. i didn't know the alphabet in between. i was nervous and i took one step at a time very japanese like. i began to study and read everything i could find on the japanese culture. the incredible thing was not having everything that went into it and it still became a quiet book. there is a tsunami. there's tv and lep easier and a
fire. i call it my zen book i think it's because as i was learning about the japanese culture, all of that started to go into the book. and it gave me the structure of what the book would become, which was very much taking after what a japanese garden it. early on a read about gardens. you don't know where you are going you just read. because japanese gardens are a huge aspect on the culture i started reading on gardens. i love the natural and the idea on how they use the gardens and how much it reads to them i started reading. i read a line like the silk worker line where it embraced me and i thought, that's what i would write about. you never walk from the front gate to the front door in a straight line it's always a
curving path in which you discover things along the way. i said, that's it. he lands, he gets off the train and slowly he would walk down this path and discover the story of this caretaker along the way. it began to move. but, you know, when i speak of it it seems like it's simple. it was not simple. this month of thinking about things. this is times of writing things down and thinking it doesn't work. and i'm incredibly fortunate i have a writer's group i have written with and shown my work to for the last. we are trying to figure it out on the way over. i brought some of the audience with me. this is what you do when you are a writer. you never know who will come who read a book in 1985 so you bring audience with you. when did we get together?
then we thought, how old are we? we can't be that old. we have been together pushing 20 years, is it? something like that. they have seen things from the very beginning of my career. and they have told me thing in which i could just kill them for. down the line it's like water off my back. not that i don't listen:the difference is everything they tell me i know it for my own good like a member of your family like your mother or brother would tell you or somebody who loves you a lot tells you. you may not like it but you take it. so many of the books are their books because that. even though when i'm not writing because sometimes they don't see the entire book all the way through because i'm rush to get
it. but they are so there because as i'm writing and turn on the computer they are sitting on my shoulder. i hear them say, don't do that. or, if you do that, you will be in trouble when you bring did to the group. it's the learning process and they have done that with me for every book. with women of the sill ik they were good in helping with that and samurai of the garden i thought they would say, what's she doing. >> i'm writing a quiet book about a japanese seaside village and the man has tb and the woman had leparcy. it doesn't matter. my editor doesn't get to see it until it's finished but these ladies do. even if she said put it in your drawer and take it out when you are 80, which is around the
corner, it would be fine because they wouldn't say they liked it if they didn't kind of thing. i felt comfortable to keep going. i'm not adjust saying this because they are in the audience but because when i see them i think of the things going back. i don't say that every time samurai garden come up and i see it. i say it because it brings up memories even though it was 1990. it brings back writing process memories that's very helpful to me now even as a writer. if i didn't have them i don't know what i would do, kind of thing. with samurai's garden i brought it and they never know what to expect from me. one said today, you never write the same story. i always feel i am writing the same story in all the books i have written because there are themes that go through my books consciously i don't sit down and say i will write about duty.
or i will write about family. or i will write about world war ii god forbid. it somehow goes through every book i have done even when i tried not to. samurai garden is an example of quintessential set before world war ii, both of my cultures and everything i wanted to do and taught me what it meant to be japanese. that's taking liberty to saying taught me what it means to be japanese. i can't know exactly what it means to be japanese but it gave me a culture. a culture i realize that was a lot japanese. even though i hadn't grownup in it and i was as american as apple pie in so many ways that i started to learn more about the culture and i thought, i'm more japanese than chinese in many ways.
this book gave that to me. that was the greatest gift of the samurai's garden. that and the fact that somehow people kept reading it. it was the book i was worried about and i had sent it to my editor and she called. i'm telling you the gossip stuff now. i think in a way that's more interesting. i was very nervous because i didn't know how she would receive this book. she called and said to me, well, it's very different. [laughter] and then nobody said anything. i didn't say anything and she didn't i didn't know what to say different good or bad so just with quiet. she said, i think this about part of -- she talked to me about story lines. i realized wow, they are going to publish it. and we talked about it as we
would talk about a man script that would be accepted. i'm thinking, i can't believe they are going to accept this book. it was a crazy writing experience because of all the books i had written half the book. i had half the book to write before it was due in terms of a contract. we sign a contract and they put a due date on it that was the only book i felt i had to get in on time. since then i have not done it since. i tell everybody -- in my second book i thought you had to get the book right when they say you need. you should, i shouldn't say to you aspiring writers out there. i had a month and a half to write half of a book. you know in the first half took a year and a half. i was teaching simultaneous, i was writing on the weekends and trying to write as fast as i could but it was researching. i was trying to learn the culture and understand it enough
so it would be part of the book. i began -- i rented a place in lake tahoe and sat there for the entire month of august. it was september ninth or something. i had summer break from teaching and i just sat down from the time it was morning to the time it was cocktail hour. i always say this because cocktail hour got earlier everyday because it was so hard to write this book when i had to write it in a certain period of time like that. what i had done finally, in the end, when it's done i thought it was the perfect situation. i had to be in that situation to write this particular book because that was the situation that the character steven was in. he was in a place he didn't want to be. he was far from people he wanted to be close to. he was not in his territory.
that's how i felt writing by myself, far from home, not wanting to do it everyday from the time i got up to the time i got drunk but i did. and the second half was written all in a month. and it worked for this book. i can't say it might work for every other book it probably wouldn't work for any other book. i started this book in third person and thought for sure as a young man's voice in first person. i went in third person and i was 5 pages in and said, this doesn't sound right or read right, something's wrong. i went back because i learned from my first book, you have to think about voice and where it's coming from. i went back and put it in first person and realized it started to work. what i did was put it in the journal entries and it became
what i should have known from the beginning because a began my colleges career as a film major wanting to make films not knowing i wanted to tell stories on the page and not on the screen. what i did was a stepped back and this is something one of my group members always tells me. where's at camera? what's happening? see from the camera's ankle. i realized he was too far away from everything. this book was different than the first book because in the first book i had so many voices and this book everything had to be seen from steven's point of view. when i narrowed it down the story told itself much the process of a writer is elizabeth said, you cannot be afraid to make mistakes.